SOUTH BEND, Ind. — I caught up with Herschel Walker by phone this week and quoted him in the scene-setter I wrote in advance of the game Saturday between Georgia and Notre Dame.
Well, I actually had about a 15-minute conversation with the greatest player in Georgia history. He was in Hawaii talking to military personnel at bases out there as he does on the regular. But he had a lot of things to say about Georgia football, Kirby Smart and Bulldogs tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
I’ll share a lot more of his insights on Monday. In the meantime, here’s a few more things he had to say about the Notre Dame game, which obviously won’t do any of us any good after tonight.
So here goes Herschel:
On having a conflict to keep him from South Bend …
“This will tell you how naïve and stupid I was. I had a chance to be there with Tim Brown. NBC did a little story on Tim and myself, I was going to try to get there for the game. We were going to try to fly from here to Chicago and get there at 6 in the morning. I was going to try to get there for the game. But we wouldn’t have had any sleep and we decided to not put that stress on ourselves. You can see it fine on TV, so we’re going to try to get home to Dallas in time to watch it on television.”
On whether he remembers anything about the last game against Notre Dame 37 years ago. …
“It’s still fresh in my mind. I can’t believe it was that long ago. On the field, we were not supposed to beat Notre Dame. On paper, they were bigger, they were faster, they had everything we didn’t have. But the one thing we did have is we know how to play as a team.
“I think that’s what the guys have to do in this game here. You can’t read what the papers are saying or what people think about the game. They’ve just got to go out there and play as a team and no matter what happens stay together as a team.”
On what he thinks about the matchup …
“I think this is a pivotal game for both clubs. Notre Dame was the Alabama of football when we played them. Now they’re on their way back as well. Now they’re in the Top 25 again, they’re playing Georgia and they’ve got a chance to make a name for themselves. It also gives Georgia a chance to show everybody they’re on their way up as well. This is a tough second game.”
On what to expect from Georgia’s offense …
“Jake Fromm had a decent game last week. He seemed to be prepared. The thing I do like is Georgia is young but with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, I think they can be the leaders of the program right now.
“They can beat Notre Dame. If they stay together no matter what happens — bad things always happen in a game — but if they don’t let that deter them from doing what they got there to do, and that’s to beat Notre Dame, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Whether it’s the defense, whether it’s the offense, just get out of there with the win and I guarantee you that will boost Georgia more than anyone could believe.
“This is a pivotal game for both clubs. And when Georgia beats Notre Dame — when, not if — people are going to recognize that they’ve got a chance of beating Alabama. Everybody’s picking Alabama to win the [SEC] West and I’ve already said that Georgia’s going to win the East. And I think they can beat Alabama. I know it’s early to be saying that, but I feel like they’ve got the club to do that.”